The following open letter was addressed to Gregory C. Johnson, administrator, Maryland State Highway Administration.
We are writing to you concerning the recent fatal crash at the intersection of River Road (MD 190) and Pyle Road/Braeburn Parkway in Bethesda that took the lives of three members of our community. As representatives of the area at the state and county levels, we believe that traffic and pedestrian safety issues at this intersection must be more comprehensively addressed.
We appreciate that you have agreed to evaluate this intersection again. Safety at this intersection has been a priority of the local community since at least 2008. Local residents report that the combination of high speeds on River Road, limited visibility due to the nearby crest of the hill, wide travel lanes, and proximity to the Beltway make this intersection particularly dangerous. As this is a major entry point for a local high school, we must take all possible steps to address the unsafe conditions.
Residents and members of the Whitman High School community are again calling for a traffic light at this intersection via a petition that already has over 2,000 signatories. We ask that you conduct a traffic safety study that examines all potential options — including a traffic light — that could make that intersection safer for all users. We ask that you conduct this study as quickly as possible.
We understand that the District 3 team recently reviewed the pedestrian safety issues associated with the nearby crosswalk. We regretted SHA’s initial determination to not make any significant pedestrian safety improvement upgrades. We do not think that fresh paint will be sufficient to address the serious safety challenges posed by an unsignalized crosswalk frequently used by high schoolers where the posted speed is 45 mph. As we seek to improve traffic safety, everything must be done to also ensure that students walking to and from Whitman can do so safely.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter. We look forward to your prompt reply.
Chris Van Hollen, Member of Congress; Isiah Leggett, County Executive; Nancy Floreen, Council President; Roger Berliner, Council Vice President; Councilmembers Marc Elrich, Tom Hucker, Sidney Katz, George Leventhal, Nancy Navarro, Craig Rice, Hans Riemer; and state Delegates William (Bill) Frick, Ariana Kelly, and Mark Korman; and state Sen. Susan Lee